One of the things that I will always disclose is that I was a terrible, lousy, pain in the ass student. There are lots of reasons for this and it manifested itself in class in a number of ways. Don’t get me wrong. I was not disrespectful or disruptive, but I was definitely a challenging student. Ironically, I learned how to teach in large part from those teachers who had to put up with me 🙂

What this means for you as a student in a class where I’m designated as teacher is that I know how hard it can be to juggle life and school; i know most of the tricks that give the allusion that you’re doing things when you’re really not; I understand how it can be to learn new things, particularly things that challenge your own assumptions, beliefs, and attitudes. So I’ll be as understanding and empathetic and sympathetic as I possibly can.

But….you knew that was coming…..

Because whether its required course or not, you are here because you want to be. You made the decision to come to graduate school, and I’m here to help you anyway I can.

I like to get out of the way a few things so that you know

  • what my expectations are about your participation
  • what you can expect of me
  • what are expectations about professionalism

Expectations about your participation

If it’s listed on the schedule that you need to do something before class, I truly do have the expectation that you’ll do it before class and come prepared to work with that knowledge in class. Do you have to be expert in it? No. Cause that’s why you’re here. But you need to have a damn good idea about some of the major takeaways OR come prepared with some questions so we can get you to those takeaways.

I also have the expectation that for those three hours a week we see one another that you’re going to really try and be engaged for those three hours. I know these block classes are hard. They’re hard on us all, but we’re going to do the best we can. One of the ways we do this is to move and to play and to make and to question. All of these require your participation and they also require stepping outside of your comfort zone at times. All I ask is that you try and not be afraid to fail cause that’s part of the learning process.

You will have to invest about 3-9 hours (this all depends on you, but this is a rough estimate from past classes) outside of class to achieve the goals of the course. As in any new work routine, students may need more hours during the initial weeks as they learn to carry out the assignments in a way that balances efficiency (time required) and effectiveness (extent of coverage, depth of comprehension).

If you have concerns as we move through the term, please talk to me about them.

Your assignments should be carefully written and edited and fulfill the requirements of the assignments. They should be approached with a professional attitude and demeanor and be professional quality.

Expectations about me

One of the most important things you can expect from me is having an inclusive classroom. What that means is our classroom is a space where we can have open, fruitful discussions and all opinions and points of view will be respected. It’s also a space where I’ll work with you to make allowances for different types of learning abilities.

In addition, my job is to

  • Establish the objectives, assignments, and schedule for the course.
  • Share my knowledge and opinions about topics covered in the readings (where you can disagree if want)
  • Facilitate the transfer of information between and among students through discussions of assigned readings
  • Encourage students to express their opinions and formulate their own arguments on the topic at hand
  • Help students make connections between their existing knowledge and the information being presented in class
  • Publish and maintain the course website that contains policies, readings, assignments, and related information about the course
  • Be readily accessible to students during my office hours or through email.
  • Review and offer directive and formative advice on plans and drafts related to the assignments

Moreover, I have and always will run an open classroom. What that means is you can ask me anything in class or out. Openness means, though, that the classroom is a safe, open space so if you are unsure how to raise a particular issue where we can discuss it safely and openly then ask me outside of class how to do this.

Expectations about professionalism

I recognize that this term, “professionalism,” can be construed in any number of ways and can be considered something of a negative by some people. So for me and the way I’m using this term is that every graduate course is a mini-lesson in your professionalization, which is a set of habits and practices that are often expected of employees in the vast majority of organizations.

Yes, even academics have things that mark them as professionals, and more importantly, good professionalism often means that your colleagues think that you are actually a good colleague and simply someone they must endure.

In a course like this one, professionalism is even more important since we’re moving toward being teachers in our own classrooms.

You have the opportunity to continue to develop necessary professional skills, such as, reliable communication with me and your classmates, problem-solving approaches, cooperation and collaboration, to name but a few. Use this time wisely to try out new approaches and techniques.